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The Political Roots of "Overhumanism"
Filosofia - Varie

Update (Feb. 2010). A new article on the subject has been published on the website of the Institute of Emerging Ethics and Technologies (IEET): On the Neofascist Infiltration of Italian Transhumanism

Update (Sept. 2009). Charlie Stross's recent post on the appearance of "overhumanism" in Italy (Chrome Plated Jackboots) has resulted in a great deal of interest in this article, but has also made me realise that it could give the wrong impression that the whole of AIT (the Italian Transhumanist Association) has neofascist tendencies. To clarify, here's a version of the comment I left on Stross's blog: Our group (the Italian Transhumanists Network) was born as a reaction to the arrival of the "overhumanists" at AIT, and their subsequent manouvering which resulted in Stefano Vaj's appointment (as opposed to election) as national secretary. While I have no doubt that the overhumanists are, in fact, neofascists (however atypical as illustrated in the article below), it is not fair to say that our cousins at AIT are "wearing the chrome-plated jackboots" - only a few of them are. Neither Estropico nor the Italian Transhumanist Network claim or imply that AIT is a neofascist organisation. The vast majority of AIT's members do not have neofascist tendencies of any type. What happened is that the founder of AIT decided to ally himself with Vaj, justifying this move with the reasoning that his association should be open to Italian transhumanists of any political conviction. In his view their presence is not controversial, given that many far-right parties in Italy not only are perfectly legal, but some of them even had, until the last elections, a few seat in the Italian Parlament. While I and many other Italian transhumanists find this logic faulty and indeed dangerous for both Italian and global transhumanism, to accuse all of AIT of fascist tendencies is simply not correct and not our intention.


This paper argues that the emergence of "overhumanism"* in Italy is a troubling development, both for Italian and international transhumanism, due to overhumanism's association with Fascism. The main overhumanist writers seem to view their version of transhumanism as a cultural and spiritual movement with deep historical roots, and see Fascism as its first political manifestation. Italian overhumanism is heavily influenced by the "Nouvelle Droite", a fringe political movement that emerged from the French neofascist microcosm in the late '70s/early '80s, and which attempted to bring far-right ideas into the mainstream by discarding the trappings of historical Fascism in order to convey a similar message in a less unpalatable form. In common with the Nouvelle Droite, it borrows heavily from the extreme left (anti-americanism, anti-clericalism, opposition to globalisation), and has adopted neopaganism as a religious stance. While affirming the importance of science in modern life, this hybrid offspring of neofascism also maintains more traditional far-right positions such as elitism, antiegalitarianism and an interest in ethnic identity that crosses into differentialist racism.

*A note on translation: "Sovrumanismo" is translated here as "overhumanism", but could as easily have been translated as "superhumanism". However, in English, superhumanism has become almost synonomous with transhumanism, hence the need for the ungainly neologism.

Fascist transhumanists?

It would be easy to simply brand the main overhumanist writers as fascists (or neofascists, or neonazis), but that would not give the full picture, even if that seems to be their personal, cultural and political background, and even if some have gone as far as to publicly label themselves as fascists, or to describe the "much despised" Waffen SS as "a model for the future, a European army of political soldiers".[1]

Italian author Giorgio Locchi is a much quoted source of inspiration for the overhumanists. In his "Political Expression and Repression of the Overhumanist Principle" he explains that "one cannot understand fascism without realising, or refusing to admit, that the so-called 'fascist phenomenon' is nothing but the first political manifestation of a larger spiritual and cultural phenomenon, which we can call 'overhumanism'". Further on, we find that "the 'overhumanist principle', in relation to the world surrounding it, becomes the absolute rejection of an opposite 'egalitarian principle' which gives shape to that world. If the fascist movements recognised the 'enemy', spiritual even before political, in the democratic ideologies - liberalism, parlamentarianism, socialism, communism, anarcho-communism - it is because within the historic perspective instituted by the overhumanist principle, those ideologies represent as many manifestations […] of the opposite egalitarian principle, all aiming towards the same goal, with different levels of understanding, and all causes of the spiritual and material decadence of Europe, of the progressive weakening of European man, of the disintegration of Western societies." [2] The introduction to the text is by the main overhumanist author and current Italian Transhumanist Association (AIT) National Secretary, Stefano Vaj. In it we find that Vaj seems to share Locchi's views on the relationship between fascism and overhumanism.

An overhumanist article on the Italian Transhumanist Association's (AIT) website, mentions an appreciation among Italian transhumanists (meaning overhumanists?), for the direction taken by an Italian far-right party (Fiamma Tricolore - Wikipedia). [3]

Another piece of the overhumanist puzzle is the strong interest [4] for the proto-fascist writers of the German Conservative Revolution, Ernst Jünger, and Oswald Spengler, whose works, often quoted by Italian overhumanist writers, contributed to the "spiritual preparation" of Germany to national socialism with their critique of modernity and of "western" concepts such as reason, individualism and liberalism.

Worth a mention is the enthusiasm shown by some within overhumanism for postmodernism, which, by no coincidence, has interesting parallels with the "critique of reason" of the Conservative Revolution's intellectuals.

However, the most important political influence on overhumanism is that of the French "Nouvelle Droite", a controversial political movement that had its heyday in the late '70s/early '80s, when its leading intellectual, Alain de Benoist, who describes himself as a critic of liberalism, free markets and egalitarianism, had access to the mainstream of French conservatism via a column in Le Figaro Magazine. Given how little is known outside France of the Nouvelle Droite, or New Right, it is now necessary to take a detour, in order to provide some background information.

The French New Right

The Nouvelle Droite coalesced around the "GRECE" study-group in the '70s and '80s ("Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne", or Research and Study Group for European Civilization - Wikipedia) of which Stefano Vaj has been responsible for Italy. A succint description of the movement can be found in Richard Wolin's "The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism": "The French Nouvelle Droite (New Right) bespeaks a shadowy assemblage of 1970s intellectuals, many of whom maintained ties to neofascist groups during the 1960s. Their agenda has been relatively straightforward: in a postwar era during which the extreme right had been delegitimated owing to the misdeed of fascism and the taint of collaboration, they have sought to bring right-wing ideas into the political mainstream once again. While qua intellectuals, many Nouvelle Droite leaders have remained politically marginal, in retrospect one would have to avow that they largely succeeded in their primary aims: to reestablish a discourse of xenophobia and racial hatred that has had a deleterious influence on French political culture of the 1980s and 1990s." [5] In an attempt to escape from political limbo the Nouvelle Droite tried to distance itself from historical fascism in order to "convey an analogous racist message in a more acceptable guise" [5] and "shifted it emphasis from the concept of 'race' to that of 'culture'. Abandoning outmoded arguments for biological racism, it moved in the direction of what might be called cultural racism. Under the banner of preserving the sanctity and integrity of 'cultures', the Nouvelle Droite argued against immigration, the mixing of cultures and cosmopolitanism. For the sake of making its claims palatable to a wider audience, it cynically appropriated the universalist values of tolerance and the 'right to difference' for its own xenophobic agenda. Thus, argued de Benoist and company, it was the cosmopolitans who were the true racists, insofar as it was they who forced immigrants to submit to the brutal rites of assimilation […] sounding like a liberal's liberal, de Benoist embraced what might be best described as nonhierarchical, 'differentialist racism'". [5] No culture is superior to any other, and all must be respected and protected. Or, in other words, Algerians in Algeria, France to the French.

For Stanley G. Payne, author of "A History of Fascism 1914-1945" the Nouvelle Droite is "extremely elitist, hierarchical and antiegalitarian but rejects the mysticism and idealism of an Evola, affirming the importance of science in modern life and relying heavily on the new sociobiology. Unlike the classic right, the new right maintains a religious position that is exclusively pagan, opposing equally Marxism and 'Judaeo-Christianity'. It attempts to create a political and philosophical program on the basis of a certain kind of human anthropology, wich gives it an intellectuality and a rigor normally lacking in vitalist neofascism." [6]

The results of this mix is an "anti-system" ideology that opposes, at the same time, Modernity, Liberalism, Marxism and Christianity, that is viscerally anti-american and anti-western, and that doesn't shy away from attacking the concepts of democracy and equality themselves. In Italy, this unusual neofascist fringe is sometimes called "alternative" or "antagonistic" right, or, by its enemies, "anti-globalisation fascists". What often baffles the casual observer is that this far-right ideology camouflages itself by borrowing freely from the extreme left. It must be said, however, that this overlap with its opposite at the other end of the political spectrum doesn't make it any less unpalatable, only differently so.

Internal contradictions and decline

The contradictions implicit in this meme-complex have been identified as the main reason behind the Nouvelle Droite's loss of influence, after its initial successes, by Guillaume Faye, a Nouvelle Droite intellectual who distanced himself from the movement in the mid-'80s: "From the start, the Nouvelle Droite and GRECE have been guilty, myself included, of a certain 'semantic awkwardness' and of permanent lapsus. The doublespeak of many articles, magazines and books, wavered between oblique references to themes, authors or iconography typical of the far right - especially German - and anti-racist, islamophile, psuedo-leftist or third-worldist tirades that didn't fool our adversaries, but confused our own supporters" [7]

Contradictions, ambiguity and "oblique references" that seem to be on display also in Biopolitica, by Stefano Vaj, a text presumably seen by overhumanists as the missing link between Nouvelle Droite and transhumanism. According to a glowing review by outspoken overhumanist author Francesco Boco, on the website of "Social Italy, the Biweekly of National Socialism", the challenges presented by the new technologies should be faced with "an 'archeofuturist' and postmodern attitude, avoiding the traps of modern, democratic, humanist, globalist logic." Worthy of note is the presence in Biopolitica, as an appendix, of an extract from Faye's "The Colonisation of Europe", which underlines the links between Vaj, and Italian overhumanism, and an author according to whom genetics "will quickly provide the tools to compensate and remedy our biological and demographic decadence… Of course, the current regimes, steeped in equalitarianism and humanitarianism as they are, would today reject in horror any solution of this kind, as they would be seen as'devilish', and rightly so from their point of view. But under the pressure of circumstance old humanist prejudices can change. We could say, in a very archeofuturistic way, that today's 'barbarity' might become tomorrow's new civilisation, as it was that of yesterday." And if biotechnology wasn't up to the task, Faye has other arrows in his quiver: in his book "Archeofuturismo" we find a novelette in which he describes a future final solution to Europe's immigration problems: the forced deportation of muslims from Europe to Madagascar. [7]  It is also worth noting the choice of Madagascar (see the Wikipedia Madagascar Plan entry).


Nobody doubts that the overhumanists accept what could be called the Central Meme of Transhumanism (CMT), the affirmation that it is ethical and desirable to employ technoscientific means to fundamentally improve the human condition. However, this is only the lowest common denominator of transhumanism and can be adopted, and adapted to their own needs, by most political ideologies, bioconservative and neoluddite ones excluded. That obviously leaves enough room for manoeuvre for some far-right and far-left extremists. It could be argued that this is a strong point of transhumanism, but the other side of the coin is what we have witnessed with the emergence of overhumanism. The founders of modern transhumanism, conscious of these risks, attempted to anchor the CMT to concepts such as the respect of the individual, freedom, tolerance and democracy, underlining how transhumanism's roots are in the Enlightenment, in humanism and liberalism. [8] Extropians have gone further, trying to anchor the CMT to concepts such as spontaneous order at first, and open society later, [9] but it would seem that the overhumanists are more than capable of the ideological contortionism necessary to describe themselves as transhumanists, while maintaning their critique of human rights, their ethno-identitarian obessions, their "Eurasian" fantasies, the fixation with indoeuropean ethnicity, etc, etc. These are only examples: Googling the main overhumanist authors (Stefano Vaj, Adriano Scianca, Francesco Boco) will produce an abundance of similar material.


Overhumanism's contribution to the Italian and international transhumanist movement is that it might spread transhumanist memes within the atypical far-right circles that constitute its background and cultural milieu. Some overhumanist writers have also occasionally published articles in the official organs of two mainstream, centre-right, Italian political parties (the post-fascist Alleanza Nazionale and the increasingly ethno-identitarian Northern League). This might be seen as worthwile, but it shouldn't blind us to the fact that this ideology's roots are deeply intertwined with those of Fascism. Furthermore, as if this wasn't troubling enough, it is worth pointing out that, at a time when emerging technologies are bringing transhumanist scenarios to the centre of political discourse, close association between transhumanism and overhumanism has the potential to be a public relations disaster.  


[1] Adriano Scianca is a prolific overhumanist writer that is on record as saying that "being a fascist is more fun than being a boring liberaldemocratic". To the question "Why are you a fascist?" Scianca replies: "…in European fascism I find a cultural exuberance, an enthusiasm for experimentation, a philosophical vivacity, a debate on the really central themes of our times that I cannot see in the opposite political side, where all I see is the recycling of puerile philosophies two thousand years old…" Francesco Boco: "Europe will become a reality when a common consciousness will arise, a common desire for revenge. This could be brought on, in our view, by the creation of a European army into which all ethnic groups of member countries would converge in a melting pot of cultures united in a common battle for liberation from the American invader. The much despised Waffen SS are today very relevant, a model for the future, a European army of political soldiers." From the website of "Social Italy, the Biweekly of National Socialism": "The vanguard of revolutionary liberation: the Three Alliances, or the Three Unions" (L'avanguardia di liberazione rivoluzionaria: le Tre Alleanze ovvero le Tre Unioni).

[2] Giorgo Locchi, "Espressione politica e repressione del principio sovrumanista"

[3] Il drago transumanista, by Mafalda Grandi

[4] An example: Adriano Scianca, Guardando il destino negli occhi. "L'Operaio" [Jünger's "The Worker"] e la questione della tecnica.

[5] Richard Wolin, "The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism" pp 264, 267-268, 154

[6] Stanley G. Payne, "A History of Fascism 1914-1945" pp 510

[7] Guillaime Faye, Archeofuturismo

[8] The Transhumanist Declaration and FAQ

[9] Max More, The Extropian Principles, version 3.0 and version 2.6

Perché un articolo in inglese su Estropico? Perché il movimento transumanista è un movimento internazionale e perché, al di fuori dell'Italia, il cosiddetto "sovrumanismo" è poco conosciuto e ancor meno compreso. Questo articolo è una versione abbreviata di All'armi siam transumanisti e ignora le polemiche interne alla Associazione Italiana Transumanisti che hanno portato alla ben nota scissione nel trasumanesimo italiano (caso unico nel panorama internazionale) e alla nascita del Network dei Transumanisti Italiani. Si concentra invece sul motivo fondamentale della scissione: la stretta parentela ideologica fra sovrumanismo e fascismo illustrata in questo articolo.

Why an article in English in an Italian-language website? Because the transhumanist movement is an international one, and because outside of Italy "overhumanism" is little known and even less understood. This article is a shortened version of All'armi siam transumanisti. It ignores the internal squabbles at the Italian Transhumanist Association that have led to a split within Italian transhumanism and that led to the birth of the Italian Transhumanists Network, and concentrates instead on the main reason for the split: overhumanism's close relationship with Fascism.


Vedi anche (see also):

Tecnofascismo? No grazie. Una serie di articoli su sovrumanismo e dintorni.

Aggiornamenti, su EstropicoBlog


Tecnofascismo? No grazie.

  • Una serie di articoli su sovrumanismo e dintorni e sui motivi che hanno spinto Estropico ad andarsene dalla Associazione Italiana Transumanisti.
  • Aggiornamenti (su Estropico Blog)